Saturday, September 08, 2007

Upstate-Downstate Food and Farm Caravan Final Day


By Hank Herrera

Managing Director, New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

September 8, 2007 – Day 6

Manhattan

We left Glynwood at 5:00 a.m. to reach Union Square for a live television interview with Mark at 7:30 a.m. We arrived a bit before 7:00 a.m. and after some delays Mark did the interview. City Harvest, a partner with Farm Aid for the Concert, attended this press event to bring attention to the food drive that will take place at the concert. Concertgoers can bring nonperishable food to the concert. City Harvest volunteers will be at the entrances collecting the food for distribution to hungry New Yorkers in the five boroughs.

With the demands of setting up for Farm Aid’s Celebration of Farm and Food at the Greenmarket in Union Square we needed to move the City Harvest and Foodlink trucks as quickly as possible. Mark, Max and I drove back uptown to the concert at Randall’s Island. Very quickly after we arrived the catering staff took over the truck, using it as another cooler.

So here we are backstage at Farm Aid’s 2007 concert site. We arrived. We made it—six wonderful days of travel, visiting 16 amazing farms, eating incredible fresh, local food. From Liz Henderson’s sweet cherry tomatoes to the roasted Berkshire pork last night at Greig Farm, from Evans Creamery cheddar cheese to roasted chicken from Herondale Organic Farm, we had an endless feast of the best food anyone can imagine.

I have enjoyed every minute of this journey. I want to thank Mark Smith, Laura Freden, Joel Morton and Carolyn Mugar of Farm Aid for their genuine embrace of our participation, unfailing generosity and hospitality.

I have learned more about New York agriculture on this six-day journey than I had ever learned before. I am startled to realize how little I knew about our farmers and our farms. I take away from our experience a much deeper appreciation for the people who dedicate their lives to producing our food in the most caring way possible.

There is so much more to learn and to share with the people who take eating for granted—and pretty much that is all of the rest of us who do not farm. There is a great diversity of farming practices in New York State but everyone we met wanted us to know about and appreciate their commitment to producing the highest quality food and to practicing wise stewardship of the land. Agriculture goes beyond good food to the essence good living itself—with good living with family, friends and in community.

Finally I would like to mention my struggle with superlatives on this trip. There are only so many ways to say excellent, outstanding, stupendous, the best, la crème de la crème, it couldn’t be better. I have used them all because they all fit the extraordinary food that our New York farmers produce. We are blessed. Thanks, Farm Aid, for making sure we know it.




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